â€śThat’s what America is about. A land of dreams and opportunity. There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less.Â They too had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great grandsons, great granddaughters might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land.â€ť
The town hall event was broadcast live to the departmentâ€™s regional offices and the response of the HUD staff who were present for their new chief executiveâ€™s comments was generally positive. A HUD official anonymously cited in a Washington Post story on the event pushed back against the immediate online outcry over the statement. The official dismissed outright the suggestion that Carson was comparing the centuries-long plight of enslaved Africans to that of immigrants who came to this country of their own free will.
Many posters on social media, who savaged the former GOP presidential contender on Twitter, did not share this view:
Perhaps the most high profile poster was â€śDjango Unchainedâ€ť and â€śSnakes on a Planeâ€ť star, Samuel L. Jackson who was unambiguous in his response to Carsonâ€™s remarks:Â
OK!! Ben Carson….I can’t! Immigrants ? In the bottom of SLAVE SHIPS??!! MUTHAFUKKA PLEASE!!!#dickheadedtom
Carson, a medical doctor, made his comments after newly named Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos described historically black colleges as among the pioneers of theÂ Â â€śschool choiceâ€ť movement forgetting that HBCUâ€™s were established in direct response to explicit legal prohibitions against admitting black students by virtually all of the nationâ€™s institutions of higher learning.
Despite the public outcry, many HUD staffers who witnessed Carsonâ€™s speech came away with a favorable impression. One person present at the event but who declined to be named offered:
â€śHUD has many employees who are African American and at the end of his remarks they stood up and applauded for the secretary. Many went to take pictures of him.â€ť